'Foreign Agents', 'Aliens' or Journalists? All Should Apply! Following Recent Cases in Media Law at the European Court of Human Rights
S. van der Hof et al. (eds) Recht uit het hart. Liber Amicorum ter gelegenheid van het emeritaat van prof. dr. mr. Wouter Hins, hoogleraar mediarecht te Leiden (E.M. Meijers Instituut/Leiden University 2019). ISBN: 9789402813104
22 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2019
Date Written: February 5, 2019
This book-chapter served as an homage to Wouter (A.W.) Hins and as a contribution to his liber amicorum for the occasion of his elevation to professor emeritus of Media Law at Leiden University.
I describe, in the paper, the current state of a recent case that has been communicated by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECtHR): "Ecodefense a.o. v. Russia, and 48 other applications". In this communication, the ECtHR especially asks Russia to respond to complaints by 61 NGOs. The applicants are challenging the consequences of the Russian Foreign Agents Act.
I also look at 4 cases (3 Judgements and 1 Decision) that the ECtHR dealt with in the period 2015-2018 and compared those to the Ecodefence case, which the Court communicated in 2017. I have considered a few roads that the application of Ecodefence a.o. and the 48 other applications against Russia could take.
These earlier judgements and decisions shed light on the approach which the Court usually takes towards conflicts related to news media content production.
I argue that Article 10 of the ECHR (freedom of expression) is likely a viable trajectory in terms of the applicability of the European Treaty, in relation to the overall applications made by the applicants.
Further on, I outline and discuss the case files of Ecodefence that are available at the European Court. I also sketch how some other Treaty Articles are interlinked. The term “political activity” is central to the arguments raised in Ecodefence. I discuss separately how that term could be treated in light of the case law of the ECtHR about Article 16 of the ECHR at the end of this paper. In the conclusion, I sum up the remarks made especially on the Ecodefence case and finally address the importance of it advancing at the ECtHR.
Keywords: Human Rights, European Court, Foreign Agents Act, Russia, NGOs, Media Content Production Market, Cross-border Finance, Compulsory Registration, Political Activity, Dispute Resolution
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